11 Jul Depression
What is it and how can I feel better
In drafting a proposal to a prospective agent for my book, Seven Minutes into Darkness, they asked me the questions-What qualifies you to write this book? I had to give it much thought because the book is about a young singer who is falsely accused and sent to prison. I’ve never been to prison, but life has a way of sending us to many prison.
One type of prison I experienced was depression, a prison of the mind. I am not the only person to suffer this type of prison. The Hope for Depression Research Foundation says, “Depression is among the most serious health problems facing our society, causing untold human suffering and enormous economic costs. Despite its prevalence, depression is misunderstood, under-funded and under-researched.”
The Tennyson Center for Children quotes data on depression. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) released a study in August that showed that over 40% of adults in the United States reported struggling with mental health challenges or substance use in June. The study also showed that almost 11% of respondents had seriously contemplated suicide in the 30 days prior to survey completion, and the number was significantly higher among 18-24-year-olds (over 25%).
The Covid pandemic has also had a remarkable impact on those already suffering from its symptoms. The Tennyson center says, “A recent Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) study suggests that the prevalence of depression symptoms in adults has increased three-fold since the pandemic started. This is mind-boggling.
How do you know if you have depression? What are the symptoms?
According to Medical News Today, the most common symptoms of depression are:
- Persistent sense of sadness.
- Felling hopeless
- Self-loathing or worthlessness -turning all your hurts and anger onto self
- Feeling excessively guilty
- Loss of interest in all activities.
- Irritability and isolation
- Difficulty concentrating
- Loss of energy
- Disturbed sleep patterns
- Change in eating patterns and body weight
- Reckless behavior
- Suicidal ideations
AARP in the post 7 things everyone should know about depression list these prominent symptoms:
- An overwhelming sense of sadness. Oder people report more pain symptoms. “Common symptoms: headaches, joint pain, fatigue, sleep disturbances, loss of appetite and gastrointestinal issues. The consequences of mental and physical pain are often untreated pain, leading to what the World Health Organization claims is the leading cause of disability in the elderly.
- Women are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed as men, according to the Mayo Clinic. The theory is that, due to hormonal fluctuations, women are more likely to feel stressors from caregiving, households, jobs, and elderly parents.
- Symptoms of depression look different in the elderly. As we age, the stressors change and may be confused with dementia, difficulty hearing or seeing and withdrawal to avoid being hospitalized.
I cannot say I had all the symptoms all the time, but I had most of them most of the time. The most troublesome symptom was an overwhelming sadness – a black cloud that hung over my life. I could not find joy in any activity. It did not help that my husband loves to argue and be right, so I assumed that everything that went wrong was my fault. It came to a point of confrontation when I was diagnosed with colon cancer and recovering at home. My husband saw this as an inconvenience to his travel schedule. The hurt and guilt overwhelmed me and I cried out to God, “Why don’t I count?” For once in my life, I heard Him speak, “You do, I died for you too.”’
I can’t say that it cured me that instant, but I began a journey to discover why I could not find joy in life. I had three beautiful children, a home, and a good job. After many years of seeking God and praying for healing, I learned a few things about the God I serve.
- God doesn’t always step in and cure those around me. He worked in me through a study of scripture and prayer to bring me to a place of repentance and joy. Only in his Word did I find the promises that would lift me out of despondency.
- God answers prayer in ways we could not imagine. I often believed that everyone around me would be better off without me in their lives. When stage 3 breast cancer came calling and I was undergoing chemotherapy, I struggled with the fear of leaving my three small children. Bible study had already taught me that worrying would not bring me relief. Matthew 6:27 says
Can any one of you, by worrying, add a single hour to your life?
If worrying did not help, I had to find something to help me get through the treatment. Jeremiah 29’11 says,
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity”
That word, captivity, jumped off the page at me. I was in captivity and had no way to get out. He promised he would bring me out of captivity if I came to him, seeking him and calling on his name. I found some answers in a simple prayer. Lord, you know I want to live. We’ve talked about this before, so now I’m asking to live. But if you have a better plan for me, then that is what I want. “
My bars were those of my thoughts that kept telling me I was worthless, couldn’t do anything right, couldn’t be an exemplary mother or wife, and I was hopeless to improve. I tried couples counseling, individual counseling, self-help books and nothing made a significant difference until I found scripture that addressed me and my thoughts:
Jesus came to break my chains and set me free. It is now up to me to decide if I want to listen to the negative voice or walk in beauty. I’m choosing to walk as an oak of righteousness and beauty.